All posts by Paul J. McAndrew, Jr.

Confidentiality Agreements and Dennis Rodman

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Many defendants, particularly celebrities, often try to keep settlement agreements private and they seek confidentiality as part of the bargain. Dennis Rodman, former Chicago Bulls basketball player and current friend of the North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un, kicked a photographer in 1997 during a basketball game and the photographer sued for personal injuries. Eventually a $200,000.00 settlement was reached and, as part of the deal, the photographer agreed to keep the settlement confidential.

In steps the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS asserted that since no specific dollar amount had been allocated for the confidentiality portion of the agreement, 60% of the amount should be taxed. The photographer appealed and argued that the tax value was de minimis, if any, but he lost his appeal.

So, dear friends, the next time a confidentiality clause is suggested by the defendant as a necessary part of the agreement, remember Dennis Rodman. Remember the photographer who had to pay taxes on $80,000.00. Remember that you should always try to avoid confidentiality agreements.  However, if you do agree, be sure to designate a specific dollar amount for that portion of the settlement and expect this amount to be taxable. For more information, see Amos v. Commissioner of IRS, T.C.M. of 2003–320. US Tax Court. 

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Understanding Your Auto Insurance – Online Flip-Book

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm.

The Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ) has released their publication “Understanding Your Auto Insurance” as an online flip-book. This booklet explains the various components that make up auto insurance coverage, including liability coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and underinsured motorist, collision and comprehensive coverage options. Details about who is covered under a policy and what the policy may cover are outlined. Steps to take if an accident occurs are explained in detail, as well.

This booklet is a great resource and should be on everyone’s required reading list.

Cancer incidence among firefighters: 45 years of follow-up in five Nordic countries.

Today’s post was shared by Linda Reinstein and comes from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Firefighters are potentially exposed to a wide range of known and suspected carcinogens through their work. The objectives of this study were to examine the patterns of cancer among Nordic firefighters, and to compare them with the results from previous studies.

METHODS:

Data for this study were drawn from a linkage between the census data for 15 million people from the five Nordic countries and their cancer registries for the period 1961-2005. SIR analyses were conducted with the cancer incidence rates for the entire national study populations used as reference rates.

RESULTS:

A total of 16 422 male firefighters were included in the final cohort. A moderate excess risk was seen for all cancer sites combined, (SIR=1.06, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.11). There were statistically significant excesses in the age category of 30-49 years in prostate cancer (SIR=2.59, 95% CI 1.34 to 4.52) and skin melanoma (SIR=1.62, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.23), while there was almost no excess in the older ages. By contrast, an increased risk, mainly in ages of 70 years and higher, was observed for non-melanoma skin cancer (SIR=1.40, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.76), multiple myeloma (SIR=1.69, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.51), adenocarcinoma of the lung (SIR=1.90, 95% CI 1.34 to 2.62), and mesothelioma (SIR=2.59, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.77). By contrast with earlier studies, the incidence of testicular cancer was decreased (SIR=0.51, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.98).

CONCLUSIONS:

Some of these associations have been observed previously,…

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Inmate lawsuit accuses Casper jail of shoddy medical care

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from trib.com

An inmate at the Natrona County Detention Center has filed federal and state lawsuits alleging the facility provided inadequate medical treatment for himself and others, along with committing other federal civil rights violations.

Jeromy Bray claims he was suffering from severe abdominal pain in November 2013 when he was sent to the jail’s infirmary. Once there, a nurse reportedly took his blood pressure before telling him he was fine and that it was “probably something you ate,” according to Bray’s complaint.

Bray states he told the nurse the pain had been going on for a week. The nurse allegedly told him he had an “inverted hemorrhoid” and that the only treatment available was to “drink a lot of water.”

“The nurse on duty came to this medical diagnosis without doing any tests other than blood pressure,” the complaint states.

Bray claims the pain became so great that while he was at the Central Wyoming Counseling Center about a month later, he was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with a severe case of diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis is a painful condition caused when pouches in the wall of the colon form and then become infected, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. It may be brought about by the lack of fiber in a diet, according to the site.

In his lawsuit, Bray claims medical providers in the jail are “deliberately indifferent” to the medical needs of the prisoners and that staff…

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Proposed House Chemical “Reform” Legislation: A Step Backward for Health and Safety

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.foreffectivegov.org

Today’s post is shared from foreffectivegov.org

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) released a draft bill entitled the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA) on Thursday, Feb. 27 that provides no significant improvements in protecting public health and the environment from toxic chemicals. Many of the provisions in the draft bill maintain the already deficient approaches to health protections now included under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s outdated and ineffective chemical safety law. Even worse, aspects of the legislation would weaken TSCA and undercut current protections provided by states that have adopted more stringent chemical laws.

Many of the problems posed by provisions of S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), are also apparent in CICA. Among many deficiencies, the bill would prevent states from regulating chemicals classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “low priority” risks, as well as preempt the ability of states to adopt requirements for “high priority” risk chemicals that are more protective than those established by EPA. CICA continues the existing law’s perverse approach to establishing safety standards, in which the burden of proof falls on the EPA to prove a chemical poses an “unreasonable” health risk, rather than on chemical companies to prove the safety of their products.

Other shortcomings of CICA include:

  • The bill provides no deadlines for the EPA to assess the potential risks of…

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Splanchnology and the Death of a Client

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

According to Max Lucado, the Greek word for compassion is “splanchnizomai” and medical students know that splanchnology is the study of the gut. A few days ago a workers’ compensation client died of a massive heart attack, and when her husband called to tell me of her death I had that gut-wrenching experience of realizing that a client I really liked, who was 47, and who was just getting back on her feet after a major injury, just wasn’t “there” anymore. It was a sad ending for a truly remarkable lady who deserved a lot better.

Some clients are liked more than others. They are the ones who respect what you do, listen and heed your advice, and work with you to let the facts and the law sift down together to achieve, hopefully, a favorable outcome. Unless there is a known cancer diagnosis I always assume the client will be around to finish up the case; but never assume anything. Because of her unexpected death, I’m going to try to remember that each client has the potential to die prematurely.

Lawyers may not be related by blood to our clients but some clients do seem like family, and when they die I feel like studying splanchnology, looking for relief.

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College Athletes Unionized? They Must Be Employees First

Northwestern University Quarterback Kain Colter

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter announced plans to form the first labor union for college athletes. The College Athletes Players Association, in concert with the Steel Workers (who have agreed to pay the legal bills for the effort) will try to unionize college athletes. The big question: whether college athletes can be considered employees.  If certified by the National Labor Relations Board, the union will be called the College Athletes Players Association. In order for the association to be recognized as a union, the players have to prove they are employees and that the NCAA or each school is its employer. Most experts indicate this is an uphill legal fight.

Worker’s compensation lawyers see everything through the prism of worker’s compensation law. Most State statutory schemes presume that a worker is an employee, except where the employee may be considered a volunteer or an independent contractor. Where the top five power conferences ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big Twelve generate nearly $10 billion annually, it is hard to claim players are “volunteers” in this system.

Some college athletes who have been seriously injured have filed worker’s compensation claims. Those claims have all been dismissed on the notion that the injured player was not a “employee” and thus not entitled to benefits. (see our prior blog posts on this issue

Athletes who successfully use their college careers as a platform for a later career in professional sports are not the norm. In many situations, college players are injured, precluding any further athletic career for pay. There is no compensation awarded for this lost potential career. Furthermore, if an athlete is injured while on campus, once they leave school or graduate, the school generally does not covered future medical costs for that injury.  

Worker’s compensation lawyers will be monitoring the case with interest.

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Mileage Reimbursement Set at 56 Cents per Mile for 2014

Today’s post comes from guest author Brody Ockander, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Getting reimbursed for mileage and travel expenses is often part of the medical process in a workers’ compensation claim. However, it’s essential to keep detailed receipts and have a plan for submitting those expenses in a timely manner.

The federal government has set the 2014 mileage reimbursement rate to 56 cents per mile. This rate was effective Jan. 1, 2014. This is a decrease from 56.5 cents per mile last year, but the price of gasoline is also slightly cheaper.

Generally speaking, the federal rate changes annually. However, when gas prices went soaring in 2008, a mid-year increase went into effect.

As a reminder from a blog post that firm partner Todd Bennett wrote in 2011, injured workers can be reimbursed for activities such as “travel to seek medical treatment, pick up medications, or while participating in a vocational rehabilitation plan.”

The best way to do this is to work with your attorney and legal assistant to keep track of all mileage. This can include appointments for Independent Medical Exams (IME), too. Then your attorney can help you get reimbursed. 

It is often essential to save receipts and keep a record for yourself of your doctor’s visits and other reimbursable trips, including physical therapy and trips to pick up medication. Providing that log to your attorney and saving receipts incurred from specific doctor visits and other reimbursable trips creates a “narrative” that makes it easier to justify those expenses.

Because money is always tight for injured workers, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have questions about a specific situation.